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Hyundai Genesis – Just-Released Photographs


Hyundai Motor America teased us recently with renderings of the concept of its upcoming BH rear wheel drive luxury car. The car will be shown at the 2007 New York Auto Show and HMA has released the following photographs of the concept…

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As expected, the photographs of the Genesis concept show a much less radical sedan than the artist’s renderings. Renderings, of course, are usually “cheated” to emphasize cues the stylist prefers. Gone is the radical CLS roofline. But other aspects of the concept – like the front end appearance, likely will be “adjusted” prior to introduction.
In profile, the Genesis looks very BMW-ish, yes?

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Dodge Demon Looks to Liven Up Geneva


Geneva Concept Being Primed for Production
We’re not at the Geneva auto show this year, but that won’t stop us from bringing you some of the notable news, including a two-seat roadster concept from big, brawny, tough Dodge.


Dodge has the Viper to take care of its serious sports car image and the upcoming Challenger coupe (and likely convertible) to attract the mid-size Mustang-ready buyers, but they’re considering another relatively low-volume, high-image vehicle at the bottom end. Though this program may not see the light of day, industry rumors and speculation promises that it will be strongly considered and fought for.

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BMW M3 Concept Revealed


Now that BMW has rolled out all four major variants of the 3-Series (sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible), it is time to move on to the really fun stuff. And the Geneva show timing is no accident, with Audi unveiling their A4-based A5 and S5 coupe at the same show.


Though this concept is close to what the real M3 will look like, hard information is still a little thin on the ground. European deliveries of the M3 are expected in fall 2007, and it’s possible that U.S. buyers wait as long as spring 2008. BMW confirmed that their “race-bred and road ready” sporting coupe will take a high-revving V8, but declined to specify which. Our guess? The V8 derived from the M5’s V10, with at least as much power as the Audi RS4 (420HP).

The M3 Concept is both stunning and discreet. The M3 Concept carries a strong, aggressive face. Coming up into anyone’s rear-view mirror with this nose certainly promises that you mean business. The three extra-large air intakes aren’t just for show, though; they are necessary for cooling the V8. The hood, with a bulging powerdome, that rises above the front fascia is made of aluminum for lower-weight.

The side view is dominated by muscular front and rear wheel arches surrounding nineteen-inch wheels, light alloy of course. Were you to be able to get up close, you’d see the high-performance M brakes between the spokes. A subtle boot spoiler graces the decklid instead of a tall, in-your-face piece of composite material, but the M double exhaust pipes promise more is under this body.
Along with the hood, BMW massaged most other body panels to create the M3 concept. The M3 Concept sports a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic roof, like the E46 M3 CSL and the M6 coupe. Only the doors, decklid, headlights, and taillights were unchanged compared with the new 3-Series coupe. The body-color mirrors are meant to be reminiscent of an aircraft wing, with a black double foot. Along with looking great, BMW says they were developed in the wind tunnel to enhance stability at high speeds.

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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Toyota FT-HS, the 21st Century Sports Car


Toyota Tests Viability of New-Generation Sports Car
The concept developed for Toyota‘s 2007 North American International Auto Show stand had both Supra and green-car enthusiasts drooling. Since Toyota dropped the Supra in 1997, rumors and dreams of its revival have repeatedly resurfaced. Supra enthusiasts reacted like Chevrolet Camaro fans; there weren’t enough of them buying the product to keep it around, but they still keep looking for a successor. It is not surprising that Toyota’s 2007 North American International Auto Show star concept, the FT-HS, was most often called a Supra successor.


Though many of those enthusiast dreams for a new Supra were dreams, ten years later the possibility remains for Toyota to again tackle the sports car segment. Is this truly a Supra successor? No. A production FT-HS would be in response to the market of today and where the company sees it going tomorrow. Toyota’s image might benefit from a halo car, to go along with the image of bulletproof reliability. And if Toyota does go for it, a hybrid powertrain is a good bet.

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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Mazda Ryuga Refines Nagare Theme


Detroit Concept Furthers Los Angeles Nagare
Back at the LA show in November 2006, Mazda showed a concept called Nagare to LA audiences (click here for our report). The Nagare (pronounced na-ga-reh) described future Mazda design themes as an expression of where Mazda styling might be in 2020. In Los Angeles, Mazda promised to follow it up with concepts at Detroit and Geneva in 2007 that would gradually grow closer to something we’ll see in showrooms soon. Mazda delivered the goods in January 2007 with Detroit’s Ryuga concept.


Nagare is one of more than 100 Japanese words describing the embodiment of motion, fitting for the first Mazda to explore their new surface language, and also the general name of Mazda’s new design philosphy. The second concept is the Ryuga (“ree-yoo-ga”). And, you guessed it, ryuga is another Japanese word for motion, this time “gracious flow.”

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Carver One – What is It? Car or Motorcycle?


A few months ago, we stumbled upon a European website for the Carver One. The website waxes ecstatic… “Here is something that will make you go out of your way to find curvy roads: the Carver One! You steer it like a car, but when cornering it banks like a motorcycle while you feel like you are flying a jetfighter. The thrill of this tilting capability combined with the handling of a sports car makes for an exhilarating driving experience unlike any other!”

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Pretty persuasive, huh?
Well, being the vehicle junkies that we are, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers wanted the chance to drive one. As luck would have it, a Carver One made its way to a secret location in Southern California on a glorious January day and we had the chance to drive a survival orange Carver One around an almost deserted office park.
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We were wondering if the Carver One was a car or a motorcycle or something in between? When we first saw the “vehicle” in the plastic, we were surprised as how big it is. The photos and videos in the Carver-Europe website conveyed a much smaller size than actual.
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As we were ogling the Carver One, a pedestrian wandered by on his lunch time constitutional. He was 6′ 6″ tall. That he could get into and out of the Carver One without too much trouble shows its size and accommodation. It’s actually pretty tall with a sweeping roofline that provides good headroom for the driver.
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Ah, yes. The driver. The Carver One has tandem seating. This is what gives you the idea that it is more of a motorcycle than a car. There is room for a passenger riding behind the driver, but the passenger needs to ride akimbo the driver. That is his or her feet will be resting just about where the driver’s elbows are.
There is one door on the left/driver’s side of the vehicle. The door is plenty big enough for the driver to get into and out of, but no one tried to get in the rear seat. The rear seat seemed large enough for a child at the biggest. Windows on both sides roll down about 80% into the door/bodyside.
Unlike a motorcycle, the Carver One has a conventional steering wheel, accelerator pedal, brake and clutch pedals. This particular example is powered by a Daihatsu 660cc 3-cylinder engine. It has a 5-speed manual transmission. There is a heater and defroster and a single windshield wiper for the windscreen. As a fully enclosed vehicle the driver and passenger likely would not be required to wear motorcycle helmets.

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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Jaguar C-XF Shows the Next New Jag Goes Sexy


Four-Door Coupe Set to Replace S-Type
At the 2007 North American International Auto Show, those attending the media days got a strong hint as to the look of a Jaguar S-Type replacement. Unfortunately for consumers, the show car was pulled before they got there. It is being shown to dealers before being shipped back to Europe for display at the 2007 Geneva auto show this March. By the end of this year, we expect to see the production car shown.
Expect to see the launch of the Jaguar XF production version in 2008 as a 2009 model year product.


Just before the Detroit show, Jaguar acknowledged that S-Type replacement will be renamed XF, to move it in line with the XK and XJ. Those creative types at Jag then named the 2007 concept C-XF. Naming aside, this is one terrific-looking concept with looks enough to get Jaguar’s mid-level entry back on the map.


Styling is by Ian Callum’s team and is revolutionary in the way that the Mercedes-Benz CLS is revolutionary. Sticking with Jag’s hereditary low-roof design, the C-XF sports a fastback look more like the XK coupe than XJ sedan. The C-XF tells us that the XF will take sportier look than the S-Type ever did. The C-XF concept has a lower roof than the production car will wear, but the new style still will compromise rear seat headroom when the car reaches production. This is a clear sacrifice, one that has hampered prior Jaguar models and, for some buyers, has ruled out the Mercedes-Benz CLS.
For other buyers, however, style is the object and poor headroom for occasional rear passengers is a sacrifice they’re perfectly willing to make. After all, the driver is seldom riding in the rear seat. Compromise or no, the fastback roof looks great on the concept and contributes to its stylish profile.

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FORD INTERCEPTOR – Strategy – Schmategy! Just Build The Sucker: Ford's Spectacular Interceptor


Some of the guys from Ford were almost apologizing for the company’s Interceptor 4-door sedan concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month. The usual proclamations that, “It’s just a concept” and “There are no plans for production at the moment,” could be heard at a most predictable interval. Others were reacting to GM’s own 4-door sedan concept the so-green-it’s-almost-sickening Chevy Volt with statements like “The Interceptor doesn’t reflect Ford’s commitment to the environment, it’s just a lark, the (Lincoln) MKR is better reflects or thinking about clean sedan.”
As strong advocates for high-performance 4-door sedans, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers agree that the Interceptor could be a slam dunk when it goes public. Now, if Ford would just make the decision, we could get the Company moving.


Build it and They Will Definitely Come
Perhaps. Perhaps not. But regardless it’s a lark that the beleaguered manufacturer should make every effort to get into production as soon as is possible. To be sure, there are a myriad of complications that would make producing the Interceptor tough. But history has shown that highly focused, edgy, difficult-to-sell (internally) projects tend to yield car and trucks that make a difference in the marketplace. And the idea of a Mustang-based 4-door goes-like-Hell sedan is focused like a Class-4 laser and a damned sight more edgy than a another innocuous mid-size se-bland.

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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Nissan Bevel Proves Not All Tools are Cool


Nissan‘s 2007 North American International Auto Show concept, the Bevel, offered a well-thought-out interior intended to appeal to 45-to-60-year-old guys looking to be the neighborhood hero, who have the tools on hand to get you into your unlocked house, or who may step in to help get home that unexpected large purchase, or who have a doggie kennel for saving lost dogs.


Or, more realistically, a vehicle for guys whose leisure activities tend toward working with their hands or outside, or whose primary job requires a vehicle that holds more stuff than people. These buyers travel solo most often, but can use a tailgate that lifts high enough to provide cover in the rain, unique storage areas in an easy-to-clean cargo zone, or a pair of 110v power-tool-recharging outlets. Instead of roof racks, six “pucks” popped up to reveal tie-down hooks, creating a system would carry a load of up to 250 pounds. To assuage the contradictory appeal of V6 torque and green powerplants, the Bevel was designed to accommodate a V6-hybrid powertrain that Nissan has under development.

According to Nissan, there are men in the empty-nest age group that need a multi-purpose vehicle configured for cargo and work rather than people hauling. SUVs and minivans are all geared toward moving people. The research may be onto something. But these buyers could just as easily convert a Scion xB; they exist, but the slice is so narrow they may exist in the thousands rather than tens of thousands. It might be tough to justify a whole new vehicle around this group. But should Nissan bring the next home-market Cube to the States as is often rumored, incorporating some of these interior solutions as options could enhance overall marketability of the box.


In any event, we can’t imagine many who would want the utility badly enough to be wrapped in Bevel’s sheetmetal. As clever as the interior might be, the exterior is not. The Ford Airstream concept offered asymmetric doors and windows, too, but Ford’s arrangement was pleasing to the eye. Bevel’s unusual cargo hatch made for a sharp look to the rear three-quarter, but in profile and front views it just didn’t work. Bevel’s nose and tail look too abruptly chopped off. The nicest thing that has been said so far about the Bevel’s grille shape is that it looks like a dustbuster snout.

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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Ford Airstream Takes the Road of the Future


Ford Motor Company and RV maker Airstream teamed up for the 2007 Ford Airstream concept, introduced at the 2007 North American International Auto Show. Boasting a wildly futuristic design inside and out, the Airstream looked at possibilities for crossovers way down the road. These possibilities included every aspect of the automobile, from exterior styling and access to interior layout and new in-car entertainment dreams, to a next-generation powertrain solution.


Among the features added purely for the fun of it was a 360-degree screen in the rear passenger area for mood lighting (playing an endless lava lamp or a digital fireplace), for in-car entertainment, or even as a live camera feed of the outside world. (Over the coming days, we’ll publish our interview with Ford designer Freeman Thomas around the digital fireplace in a video podcast. Keep looking! BTW, Airstream was AutoPacific’s Jim Hall’s favorite concept)

HySeries: Plug-In Fuel Cell
Chevrolet, with their Volt (click here for our story), was not the only manufacturer showing off the possibility of a plug-in fuel cell. The Volt took a sporty shape with a cool exterior that implied speed and nimble handling, but the Airstream played on the idea that the journey is more important than the destination.

Airstream was designed around a plug-in hydrogen hybrid fuel cell system, HySeries in Ford-speak. HySeries is envisioned to run on electric power at all times with a Ballard-supplied fuel cell half the weight and cost of today’s, as well as being able to operate below freezing. In this concept, the fuel cell powered lithium-ion batteries, which provided motive power. The combination is said to be capable of an ultimate range of 305 miles. The powertrain is involved in real-world testing, moving a new-for-2007MY Ford Edge instead of a fancy concept.

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